1 in 5 pensioners missing out on crucial benefits

Posted on April 30th, 2011 | Categories - Retirement

1 in 5 pensioners could be missing out on vital benefits according to new research from Just Retirement.

The study shows that up to a fifth of pensioners are failing to claim their full benefit entitlements each year. The data shows that by failing to do this, pensioners are missing out on an average of £788 in key benefits such as pension credits and council tax benefits each year.

The research also found that pensioners failing to claim additional benefits could be missing out on as much as £2400 each year, with the average calculated at around £675 a year.

“Since the beginning of the recession, pensioners have been hit financially by higher taxes, spending cuts and inflationary pressures. It is disturbing that pensioners are not taking the state benefits that they are entitled to,” commented Just Retirement’s Stephen Lowe.

Many experts blame Britain’s convoluted and complex retirement system for the confusion in pensioner benefit entitlements. For instance, Pension Credit (which tops up pension incomes to a minimum of £131.35 per week and opens the door to Council Tax discount) is not automatically available and has to be claimed, however many pensioners are unaware of how to apply or even that this exists.

Despite the confusion, many experts hope the new Government overhaul outlined in the Budget could help to make the system more transparent and easier to understand. Possible new measures include the introduction of a flat rate weekly state pension of £140, however this would not apply to existing pensioners.